Last year, I asked my Grade 8 students to think about and respond to this question over and over again: Is it worth it?
At first they thought it was a ‘what’ and ‘why’ question, only to consider how it was so much more about when.
I don’t need to fight ALL the time.
Don’t need to exhaust my voice over EVERYTHING.
Because when the gas runs out, the soul dies.
Anyway, here’s a short video from one of Oprah’s Master classes. She talks about her journey to surrendering and the space she needed to have to live a life of letting go.
Because it seems like, this is what I have to do right now.
grateful slice: choosing when well
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” – Alice (from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll)
And just like that, July has arrived like a ninja, which means it’s also the middle of 2011 and the tail end of our not-really-summertime-summer-vacation. I’ve been working on wrapping my head around this fact for a week now and it seems to be working because it’s almost 3am and I am still tweaking something for work (read: for upcoming induction workshop in school. Very excited.).
Wow. Six months. Really?
It feels like just yesterday when I was deciding on my WFTY 2011. Focus. That’s my word for 2011. And so far, I think it has done me a lot of awesome; well, as much as a word can do someone good, in spite of her ADD anyway. I know I have some ways to go in the consistency department (hence, the need for the word) but I have managed to avoid all extreme anythingS since deciding that I would dodge drama at all costs. This is a good thing. Surrender though, has found a way to be a subword the last two months. Which brings me here, exactly where I need to be. Yup. I seem to have been focusing on surrendering to, well, whatever recently and it’s been great. Surrender traveling doesn’t allow for mediocrity and more recent experiences and a trip to a rainy Boracay, have been far from mundane.
Now, surrender here doesn’t mean giving up or quitting or throwing in the towel or raising some white flag, leaving you with a woebegone look and a deflated spirit. No. Surrender here means simple acceptance; a profound letting go of things that can’t be negotiated, manipulated, controlled or changed. It’s making the conscious decision to gladly take the path of least resistance because absolutely nothing cooler can come from resisting the inevitable. The inevitable unfolding of learning new things borne from living at the edge of the box I have been placed in; the one I have placed myself in. The slow walk away from what I thought I already knew has made surrender the riskiest thing I’ve done but also, the one of the best things I’ve done.
Experiencing India with a heart of surrender made my time there textured and gritty and unforgettable. It allowed me to enter a world different and the same from my own, with an open mind and a traveler’s heart hungry for more.
It allowed me to understand what S sees and loves about her maximum home. Why she looks at it with fondness, compassion and love.
Behind the lens, I was able to try and capture a city’s strength, vulnerability, part of its culture, a little of its history, some of its personality, quirks and dysfunction.
And really, what I did was I allowed myself to fall in love with a place I wasn’t sure I would have liked as a younger, more narrow-minded person. Smitten with everything I saw, ate, felt, heard, smelled and experienced every time I rode a rick (Haha. Like tricycle rides on crack), I felt grateful for an older, more grounded and more humbled version of me because otherwise, I might have missed it all — the people, the city’s pulse, the photographs, the point. Mumbai is not perfect, mind you, but what place is? And sure, I’ve allowed myself to romanticize a bit of it (read: like never mentioning that I forked over a lot of money for overweight charges (I had an extra suitcase with a lot of stuff) at the airport which made it seem like I shopped in NYC instead of Colaba but that’s just me being an amateur traveler. Fail.), but who cares. At the end of it all, after waiting for the “intricate maneuverings of the expert hand with a loom patiently stitching together a pattern for a silky Indian shawl” to be done, what I am left with is a work of art unique only to me; wrapped in my heart, unforgettable to my senses and lodged in my memory to be retrieved repeatedly, over and over again. Naku. Indian fever na ito.
Anyway, Rilke was right about not seeking the answers and just living everything instead. From embracing the questions to the unlearning and the melting away of the edges of the claustrophobic box I’ve carefully crafted to protect whatever I thought to be true, the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.“ Win. It was a month yesterday since coming home from my trip and the ‘distant day into the answer’ hit me while sitting in church, waiting for service to begin. I realized that surrender of this type has suited me well because at the core of it is gratitude. Gratitude towards the many opportunities to travel, learn, unlearn, to be wowed, to be moved, to be with friends in different parts of the world, to experience life in such a layered and lovely way. If the ultimate outcome of embracing the unknown promises more of this, well, I am determined to surrender as often as I can. 🙂
Which takes me from the beginning of my not-really-summertime-summer vacation to right now, near its end point. Sigh. Looking back, it seems I have a grabbed a number of other opportunities to just live by relinquishing all illusions of control. India apparently, does not have the monopoly of abandon. 🙂
Here are more random summer-of-surrender highlights.
From accepting that rainy Boracay is just as fun as its sunny version (read: the ironic arrival of the sun on our last day on the island), to crawling through EDSA traffic at the height of rush hour to make it in time for the Kylie Minogue Aphrodite Live in Manila concert (read: good friend, Y, got awesome tickets last minute, like literally he called me an hour before the show) to catching the Virgin Labfest 7 (six plays and a number of serendipitous snaps of the Harbor), it’s been a wonderful last few weeks because of surrender with a capital S. (Even if I, *sniff*, missed my parents’ 40th wedding vows renewal ceremony because it was so last minute and I was in India. Boo. Some snaps of our family lunch at Antonio’s Tagaytay post their ceremony are in the slideshow too.)
Speaking of productive alone time — Yay! I have increased my 50 book challenge 2011 list by a chunk. Also caught a slew of movies (including Tree of Life, Water for Elephants, and soon, Transformers), spent quality time with family and friends and worked bit by bit here and there to build up to a fresh start for the coming school year 2011-2012. I’d have to say it’s been a productive seven weeks especially since I’ve been able to mind map what’s next in terms of my career as well (I’m tenured! Woot!). Future posts on that, fo sho; on being tenured and the steps that need to be taken in the remaining months of 2011 towards the coming chapters of my life. 🙂
So, wow, thanks for everything, G. It’s been a great summer and first half of 2011. And you, thank you for passing by. 🙂 I do love your company. Make sure to come by again.
grateful slice: distant days, time, surrender and melting box edges